If lawmakers in Springfield met Treina, it’s hard to believe or accept that they would continue to hold up the passing of a budget, inhibiting funding to programs that help hardworking single mothers like Treina secure something as simple as a safe place to live.
Treina grew up on the south side of Chicago, some of that time in the foster-care system. She graduated from a vocational high school which she credits with giving her the tools to succeed later in life. Years later, married and with two children, her husband developed an addiction to drugs and became abusive. After being called several times, the police never arrested her husband and merely suggested counseling. She recalls about that time in her life,
“to watch somebody tear up your stuff, it’s overwhelming…the reality is, if you think about the material things you’ll never get out.”
Treina courageously made the choice to leave a situation that had become dangerous to her eleven year old son and twelve year old daughter. She calls leaving her husband the “best thing I ever did.” She went to a hospital under the guise of obtaining asthma medication and revealed to a nurse the horror she was faced with at home. She calls the experience “embarrassing.” The nurse referred her to a local shelter that specifically serves women fleeing domestic violence. There Treina and her children were given a private room but Treina warned her kids not to get comfortable. The experience would be temporary and she wouldn’t let them live in a shelter for long. She says, “I feel like I have to be strong for them.”
During that time, Treina cooked dinner five or six days a week for the women in the shelter, walked her kids to and from school every day, and continued to look for work, a place to live, and other resources. Treina is an incredibly hard-working woman who was faced with a situation she had never been in before.
Three years ago she found Inspiration Corporation. She set up an interview with a Housing Retention Specialist, Karl. He enrolled her in programming and together they visited a few different apartments. She moved in to an apartment in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood with only two comforters and some food. Inspiration Corporation was able to purchase beds and a few other furniture items. Treina has paid her rent religiously. During a two month period in which her SNAP benefits had been held up by a clerical error, she immediately informed Inspiration Corporation. Karl was able to get her access to the Emergency Fund to pay her rent so that she could use her own resources to feed her children. Today, due to a reduction in our ability to access the Emergency Fund, it would be far more difficult if not impossible for us to obtain that amount of funding for Treina.
Today, Treina has just moved into a new apartment on Clark Street and is pleased to be living in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Treina glows, “I am just so grateful for Inspiration. Sometimes you just need that extra push. Someone can get you an apartment but they can’t keep you housed if you don’t want it.”
Treina is one of the many Illinoisans who depend on social service organizations to bridge the gap, allowing them to safely care for themselves and their children. Although her story is amazing in its courageousness, it is not unusual among our clients. Treina and women like her are the people most negatively affected by political bickering and delay of services, not to mention the ever increasing cuts to social services we have seen over the last fifteen years.